In 2012, a manuscript by renowned art historian Erwin Panofsky was rediscovered in a safe in Munich, in the basement of the Central Institute for Art History. Hidden for decades among folders and administrative files was Panofsky’s thesis on Michelangelo—originally submitted to Hamburg University in March of 1920, abandoned when Panofsky fled Hitler’s Germany in 1934, and thought to have been destroyed in the Allied bombings. A century on, Michelangelo’s Design Principles makes this remarkable work available for the first time in English.
Casting Panofsky’s thought in an entirely new light, Michelangelo’s Design Principles is the legendary scholar’s only book-length examination of the art of the Italian Renaissance. He provides a compelling analysis of Michelangelo’s artistic style and deftly compares it with that of Raphael, situating both Renaissance masters in the broader context of Western art. This illuminating book offers unique perspectives on Panofsky’s early intellectual development and the state of research on Michelangelo and the High Renaissance at a period of transition in art history.